- Gottman's findings confirm what has already been in Scripture for some two thousand years. Chapter 5 of Ephesians is considered by many to be the most significant treatise on marriage in the New Testament. Paul concludes these statements on marriage by getting gender specific in verse 33. He reveals commands from the very heart of God as he tells the husband he must love his wife unconditionally and the wife must respect her husband, whether or not her husband comes across as loving. page 35-36
- He may not be perfect as the head of the family, but you are quite willing to allow him to live in that role as you submit to his leadership. (page 211)
Here is the scripture text in question,
- however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. RSV
Neuerthelesse, let euery one of you in particular, so loue his wife euen as himselfe, and the wife see that she reuerence her husband. KJV
Neverthelesse do ye so that every one of you love his wyfe truely even as him silfe. And let ye wyfe se that she feare her husbade Tyndale
The use of phobeomai in collocation with "God" indicates that it means to "respect someone who is stronger than you." Eggerichs is clear that when he uses the word respect he does mean to validate hierarchy with the husband at the head of the hierarchy. He writes,
- If you want a Love and Respect marriage, do not argue or fight against hierarchy. (page 213)
However, there is a disagreement about whether we now interpret this author to be saying that the husband has earthly power, as does a slave owner or an emperor, or natural power as an adult does in relation to a child; or whether, as some theologians teach, it means that God intends the husband to exercise power over the wife.
I would argue that the author of Ephesians is commenting on the fact that the husband at that time had more power in the marriage relationship. A wife could not change this. In the same way, slaves were told to obey their earthly masters.
The first difficulty with Eggerichs use of the term "respect" is whether the English word "respect" conveys this difference in hierarchy and whether it can also be used of the way a husband is to treat his wife.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary says of "respect" - 1 regard with deference, esteem or honour. 2a avoid interfering with, harming, degrading, insulting, injuring or interrupting. 2b treat with consideration 2c refrain from offending, corrupting or tempting.
Other definitions and uses of the English word "respect" indicate that whle it can be used with reference to a hierarchical regard, it does not necessarily entail hierarchy. While Eggerichs uses the word "respect" to indicate hierarchy, Gottman does not. Gottman clearly says that "love and respect" are "mutual" and he speaks approvingly of "power-sharing." I am not aware of any social science articles that confirm the notion that hierarchical relationships provide more love for those under hierarchy than non-hierarchical relationships.
I will continue in my next post with a look at other ways Eggerichs uses the word "respect" and whether the scriptures specifically require a husband to respect his wife or not. There is more to be written about the Greek word phobeomai and its near synonym timaô.